One question that often crops up during the installation of a child restraint system is whether or not to use the tilt adjustment. And if so, what is the ideal inclination? The truth is that there are many factors to bear in mind. Sometimes the tilt adjustment comes with the child seat itself. On other occasions, because of the car model, you have to buy it separately.
The angle will depend to a large extent on the child and the type of seat. Seats from Group 0 and 0+ are not the same as those from Group III. Consequently, the best advice is to follow the manufacturer's recommendations to the letter. They usually include advice on how to use the tilt adjustment mechanism in the installation instructions. This is often one of the final steps before positioning the child and can vary quite a lot between one CRS and another.
If the child is facing the direction of travel and wants to sleep, you can recline the seat to make them comfortable and safe in the protection zone. On the other hand, if the child is awake you can put the seat in a more vertical position so they can look out of the window, at all times following the manufacturer's instructions. Reclining the seat too much can be dangerous in the event of an accident.
Some manufacturers only recommend using the tilt adjustment when the child is facing the direction of travel. They highlight the fact that the seat should only be used in the vertical position if facing backwards.
To manipulate the tilt mechanism, you usually just have to turn a lever or wheel which normally stays in place when you remove your hand.
Many manufacturers offer guides or special markers to show parents when the seat is correctly reclined.
The design of vehicle interiors can also have a direct effect on the angle at which the seat is adjusted. For this reason you might find that the same CRS is more vertical in one car than in another. This has a direct effect on the angle at which the child is supported in the seat. This is evident if the child's head is leaning forward or if you notice that the child is reclining too far backwards.
Manufacturers claim that the more pronounced the angle of tilt, the better protection it offers. For babies, the most comfortable position is sitting straight, especially for the neck muscles which are still developing. However, the seat's safety systems will never reach their optimum capacity if they are not fitted properly.
If the CSR reclines too much in relation to the vehicle's seats, some brands offer the option of requesting an adaptor.
The best advice is to consult the salesperson on the ideal angle and, if you are still unsure, contact the manufacturer of the CRS direct for an explanation of the safest way of positioning your child.